The Cast Iron Kettle seemed the appropriate place to break our fast the next morning. Our group sat about a wooden table digging into the bread and eggs the tavern keeper, Andar Bellman, had set aside for us. I guess he was still feeling indebted to us for our help the previous night, for the meal was far better than the usual porridge we were used to for morning meals.
As we were finishing up, a gaunt looking fellow entered the tavern and looked around. He was wearing a scholarly looking outfit, which seemed a bit out of place in this place. After looking about for a moment, he walked directly to us with a quick stride.
“Are you the ones responsible for last night?” he drawled out.
Lucien’s eyes narrowed as he prepared for us to be interrogated or blamed for something, the way our luck had been going thus far.
“That depends on why you are asking.”
The gaunt looking fellow introduced himself to us as Samuel Parthens, the mayor of Pendleton. He proceeded to tell us, in the most painstakingly slow voice I had ever heard, about troubles they had been having of late. I had to keep poking D.W. who was nodding off as he attempted to listen. I believe it took the man at least a full minute to utter a single sentence as he drew out each word.
In summary, several town folk had gone missing. The road leading Northwest out of town crosses a bridge, then the road had a fork in it. He told us the road to the left of the fork had some sort of webbing in the woods.
When the mayor was done talking, Lucien asked what we might gain for a reward. The man had to ponder the answer for a bit, then said we could have any belongings of the victims if they had no relatives who would inherit it. Lucien stared at the man in stunned silence. Mr. Parthens then said he would come up with something else as well.
We agreed to help them out with the problem and headed to where the mayor told us they had seen webs. As we approached the bridge, we spotted a monstrous spider spinning it’s web amongst the trees. Samhein spoke an incantation and two magic missiles flew from his finger tips and smashed into the spider. Another spider dropped down from the trees and headed toward us.
Lucien strode forward with his weapons drawn, but before he could reach the first spider, it spit out a sticky residue that pinned him in place. I had not known spiders could spit that substance and from the look on the rogue’s face, he apparently did not either. He struggled with the webbing attached to him while the rest of us took the spiders down.
We discussed the creatures for a minute and whether these were the cause of the missing townsfolk. I pointed out that there was not a lot of webbing here, like the spiders had just reached this area. The mayor had told us it was after the bridge and to the left of the fork in the road. It sounded to me like we needed to search a bit more. Everyone agreed and we proceeded further along.
After another few minutes of travelling, we found the area the mayor had been talking about. There was a lot of webbing in the woods there and it seemed to be concentrated in one area. Unfortunately for us, a narrow strip of river lay in front of it. I myself have not learned to swim. Judging from the way everyone else eyeballed the water, they did not have any skill in it either.
Kael switched to his clouded leopard form and attempted to swim across. He found himself holding his breath as he paddled furiously to get across without much progress. I am quite certain I looked ridiculous as I attempted to doggie paddle my way. Lucien stunned me as he strode into the river and swam directly across to the other banking.
As we were trying to get across the strip of water, several spiders dropped from the trees and began attacking us. Samhein and D.W. had not yet attempted to cross, so were in perfect position to use their ranged skills against the creatures. With their attacks distracting the vermin, we were able to finish crossing and join the fray.
As the last spider dropped, we heard a horrible screech come from the center area of webbing, then a beast came racing toward Lucien and I. The creature was almost humanoid in shape, with arms and legs, but looked more like a cross between a human and a spider. It was revolting to look at. Everyone focused on the single creature and it did not take long to kill it.
For just a moment, while fighting it, I thought I heard it hiss at me that we would pay for killing it’s pets. I chose to keep that to myself as the others would think me mad. Obviously, a creature like this could not speak the common tongue.
We approached the webs with caution. Many cocoons were attached to them with partially eaten humans inside. I wondered if we should bring the bodies back to town, but the others assured me we should leave it to the town to take care of them. Since the creatures were now dead, the townsfolk could safely pass through here again.
When we returned to town, we went right to the mayor’s office to tell him what had transpired. The gaunt man sighed deeply with tears in his eyes. He told us he would have to see to the bodies and then speak with their families first. Then he would find us to give us our reward for helping them out.
The mayor was good to his word. After speaking with the families and dispatching people to retrieve the bodies, he sought us out. He handed over a bag of coins with gratitude for our help.